Emotional Pain – A Quote

Emotional Pain - A quote. Artwork by Angela Porter of Artwyrd.com
Emotional Pain – A quote. Artwork by Angela Porter of Artwyrd.com

About the art

This Nicola Lyons quote is another that resonated with me and brought some tears to my eyes and echoes of pain to my heart too. I just had to make it pretty – Angela style of course.

I used a script font and printed the quote out in a square format. I added the illustration around it using a combination of Tombow Fudenosuke and Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens. I kept to a small number of repeating motifs in this design. I can now see that I may go back and add some texture and pattern to the leaves, berries and some flowers that are quite bare to help to bring them to add depth and dimension.

I scanned the drawing in, cleaned it up digitally and then added a background to it rather than colour the elements in. I may return to colouring the design in, but I think I’ll use colours that are reminiscent of linocut artworks – flat colour and letting the lines add the shadow and texture, depth and dimension to the image.

So, Angela, how are you feeling today?

I’m tired. I got to sleep early enough but I woke around 3:30am and couldn’t get back to sleep until gone 5am. I’d set my alarm for 7:30am as I have to be in Llandridnod Wells before 11am to give an anti-stigma talk on behalf of Time to Change Wales.

I expect that I’ll be drained after the talk – I usually am. So self-care will be important later on in the day. I need lots of tea before I leave – I have less than an hour to sort myself out.

Warning – the following may contain triggers.

The quote above relates to me being a ‘people-pleaser’, which is one way that CPTSD presents in me.

From as early as I can remember, I tried to do and be what would make others around me like me or love me, even if it meant doing things that made me feel horrible. It’s a pattern of behaviour that carried on through my life.

It never worked though; other people would get what they wanted and in return I would not get what I was hoping for or was told I would get. I’ve been left believing that I am unlovable and unlikable and not good-enough. There’s a good helping of shame around all this too, along with a lot of grief for what never was and never could be.

Nowadays, I’m more aware of my emotional, physical and mental needs now, thanks to EMDR therapy. However, I can still default to this ‘people-pleaser’ setting when I’m anxious or emotionally vulnerable.

It took a lot of work in various forms of counselling, self-reflection and EMDR for me to recognise that I have been a people-pleaser. Once aware of this tendency I could start to change my behaviour. I don’t know how successful I’ve been. One coping strategy I have is that I don’t let people get close to me, yet I yearn for meaningful, deep connection with like-minded souls, kindred spirits.

It’s a conundrum and I’m not sure how I’m going to solve it other than by valuing myself in a healthy way, being able to put up healthy boundaries, and being able to say ‘no’ if I’m uncomfortable about something or it would cause me difficulties.

Crochet Seed Pods

Crochet Seed pods by Angela Porter – Artwyrd.com

I really do wish I could take better photos! However, I think you get the idea of this pair of pods that I created last night and in the early hours on waking.

These ones I’m really pleased with; they’re the ones that look most like the seed pods I draw. I’ve also progressed to adding leaves to the stems and that funny star-shape.

I’m going to spend the evening doing some more crochet. I had EMDR therapy this morning, and it has totally drained me. I was tired and emotionally fragile, to begin with; I’m now emotionally exhausted and need to take self-care time.

I know that if I were to attempt digital or traditional art/drawing, then I would not feel satisfied with what I do. I’d get frustrated with myself, I’d become overly self-critical and would end up feeling worse than I do now. Although I am emotionally exhausted, I feel calm and fairly content. I need to keep activities that would drag me down to a minimum until I am more emotionally resilient.

So, self-care it really does have to be this evening, and maybe some or all of tomorrow.

Coloring Book Day 2019

Angela Porter's Coloring Book Fans August Template ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans August Template ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

That’s right, there’s an annual day to celebrate coloring books and to indulge yourself in the relaxing, calming, stress-busting activity of coloring, no matter your age or gender!

As you can see if you browse this blog, I do a lot of art. Whether drawing, colouring, or other forms of creativity in art it really does relax, calm and soothe me when I need it.

And there are times when I really do need calming and relaxing. It’s no secret to anyone who has followed my blog for a while that I have complex PTSD (CPTSD) and I am slowly recovering from it with the help of EMDR therapy. On the days where I have low mood or anxiety or I’ve been startled into hyper-vigilance, art really helps to soothe my jarred emotions and calm me until the stress hormones leach from my body returning to their normal level for me. That is still an elevated level, but a level that has always been there in my life.

It’s not just me saying this. Research has shown that spending time colouring has a similar effect on the brain as mindfulness meditation.

One piece of research at the University of West England in Bristol has shown that colouring can reduce stress, boost creativity and increased mindfulness (being aware of what you are doing at that moment, not thinking about the future or past).

The benefits of colouring are listed in an article on the developing good habits blog.

There are so many coloring books available as well as colouring pages, you can find just about anything to suit your tastes. Also, I have many colouring books available (I think it’s around 20 now) – have peek at at my Angela Porter Amazon author page.

If you like to draw your own designs to colour and are looking for something new and a little different, then you may like to take a look at my book ‘A Dangle A Day’. In the book I show you what dangles are, how to draw them and use them with hand lettered sentiments and monograms. They’re fun to draw, simple, and there are many ways to use them such as in bullet journals (BuJos), planners, journals, scrapbooks, greetingscards, note cards, bookmarks and more.

Also, I gift an exclusive template to the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group at least once a month. They’re free to members and shouldn’t be available anywhere else, though intellectual theft isn’t unknown in the realms of the internet.

The image above is the August template for the facebook group. I coloured it digitally using gradient tools for some speed. It would take me weeks to do the way I’ve been creating digital art of late!

No matter what you use to colour – digital or traditional media – I’d love to see how you’ve brought my line art to life, whether from one of my books or from one of the templates available in the facebook group. There’s also some templates available on my angela porter illustrator facebook page too.

Here’s the tags you can use to connect with me on the social media platforms that I use:

Drawing Practice, and other stuff.

Drawing Practice ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Drawing Practice.

The other day, I was drawing a design for the book I’m working on. I wasn’t at all happy with the way I was drawing. I’ve been working so much digitally that I feel out of practice with pen on paper.

I may end up re-drawing my illustrations for the book digitally, but I want the option of doing that.

So, yesterday evening, as some self-soothing, and this morning, I’ve been drawing in my ‘visual zibladone’, my A5 dotgrid where I keep all the patterns and motifs, well maybe not all but most, that I like to use. It’s a little book that I can flip through to find inspiration if I need it.

Adding designs, even if they’re duplicates, is a nice way to practice my drawing skills with pen or pencil.

When I work digitally, my pen strokes are much bigger, longer and involve me using my whole arm and wrist a lot more than when I use pen on paper.

I’m perhaps a lot bolder with my lines as I work digitally than I am when working on paper. I’m still precise with my lines, but the way my muscles work when I’m working digitally is different.

I hadn’t realised this until today.

Don’t get me wrong, I love drawing both ways, with traditional tools or digital tools.

However, I’d not really noticed the way that I move my fingers, wrist and arm when I work is different with each media. How curious!

So, I need to make time every day to draw with pen on paper to keep those skills just ticketty boo.

Just a little warning.
The words that follow may contain material for some that may be upsetting or triggering.
Please feel free to skip it.

So, Angela, how are you today?

I’m ok. Tired. EMDR yesterday was very emotional and exhausting.

I arrived at the session after having some snail mail which had me doubting my abilities as an artist/illustrator/author and it triggered that inner critic inside.

I felt warmth drain from my body. I started calling myself a failure, useless, delusional of my abilities and talent, that I really am worthless and useless, and that I’ve let people down. I even questioned my abilities as an artist, if I was deluding myself and others, living in a fantasy world rather than reality. Part of me just wanted to give it all up.

Another part of me told me that I wasn’t being silly, what I was hearing was not myself but the inner critic who had attacked me at the point of vulnerability and tried to stick its claws in once again and continue the job of so many people in my childhood and beyond of keeping me down and thinking the worst of myself.

This all tracks back to the earliest days I can remember in my life, and most of the days beyond. Nothing I did was ever good enough, and if I did good at something there was always someone who was either better or potentially was better. Always the slap-down. Every time I thought I’d done something good and tried to show it, I was always told I was wrong and everyone else was right and better.

By the time I got to therapy I was in a bit of a state. I do have to say nowhere as near as bad as I would’ve been even a few months ago, let alone a year or more ago. But still in a bit of an emotional state. Tearful. Worried. But not with the level of anxiety I’d usually feel, which surprised me, even though thoughts were running around my head like crazy.

Some of the thoughts were fairly rational, sensible, logical. That also surprised me.

Jung would call this an prime example of synchronicity – there’s no such thing as something being just a coincidence. Last week we started working on the negative belief I have that I’m a failure and useless and a disappointment. What a bit of synchronicity is that, eh?

We talked about what had triggered me and how I don’t need to go into or stay in full panic/flight/freeze mode, and about the confusion I felt that I should be really anxious and panicked, but I wasn’t. But we did use those negative thoughts for EMDR.

Lots of tears and physical pain and discomfort with the session yesterday. The negative beliefs I had changed into one of being deeply disappointed in myself and of having let others down.

At the end, I left feeling more upbeat than I arrived, even though I was absolutely bushwhacked emotionally.

I eventually got home, after a stop to get supplies to make some cucumber sandwiches. For some reason I really fancied them. I was hungry as I hadn’t eaten since breakfast early that morning.

I was tired, but knew that I couldn’t nap as it would wreck my sleep pattern, which was likely to be wrecked anyway.

And it was. I had a broken night’s sleep. I kept waking up and started fretting a little about yesterday’s mail. In the end, I gave up trying to go back to sleep and got up, breakfasted and determined I’d do some drawing.

I seem to be OK at the moment. My mind isn’t dwelling on the mail. I still feel a bit nervy though. That will pass.

Even though it was a challenging day yesterday, I think it’s shown me how far I’ve come. Not that long ago this would’ve absolutely floored me. Now, I seem to have a little resilience, and I reached out to people for some more information and explanation and advice too.

The rest of my day is going to be spent in self-soothing activities, which do include art!

WIP Monogram A

WIP "Monogram A" © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
WIP “Monogram A” © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I’ve managed to get a bit more of this design done today.

I’m finding I’m enjoying working ‘freeform’ i.e. without a sketch. I’m just adding shapes and patterns that I particularly like and trying out colour combinations that may work well together and alongside others.

Also, I’m finding that the more I work digitally, the more my head is getting around this digital lark.

As usual, my digital tools are Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, a Microsoft Surface Pen along with a Surface Studio.

So Angela, how are you today?

I had a good night’s sleep, sleeping through to nearly 8 am from just before midnight. I felt really upbeat and ticketty boo, once I’d come around. It takes me ages to wake up properly these days and I have no idea when that crept up on me!

All the same, I felt up to some ‘adulting’. Today, that involved posting a couple of packages off and doing some shopping.

I also have to say that I’m quite content, and today I don’t seem to have much anxiety. I noticed yesterday that I kept trying to find it or to make myself anxious so that I could feel it.

When did this happen that the anxiety has not vanished but diminished noticeably.

And here’s me thinking that Monday’s EMDR didn’t have much of an effect …

And that is all I have to say about that today, other than I do have to go and do a bit more ‘adulting’ in the form of cooking a healthy meal. I really fancy a curry … one with lots and lots of veggies!

A bit of whimsy – ice cream mandala

A bit of whimsy - an ice cream mandala ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
A bit of whimsy – an ice cream mandala ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I’ve mostly been away from social media, and art, this weekend. Sometimes one just has to have a break from it.

This morning I discovered that July is ice-cream month, so I thought I’d do something quick, fun, and whimsical with an ice cream mandala.

Not happy with much of the mandala. I can’t put my fingers on why;maybe it’s the seemingly childish nature of the art, the lack of complexity, the colour choices, or something else.

It did seem like a good idea at the time, and even though I wasn’t happy with it, I was determined to work with it until it was finished.

It was, however, mainly a practice in using layers and different digital brushes. It also helped me get back to digital art after a weekend of mostly crocheting.

As usual, I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with a Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

So Angela, how are you today?

Just like the previous days, including Saturday and Sunday, I’m feeling content. I’m tired after not a good night’s sleep with weird dreams I can’t now remember.

I needed a break from social media this weekend; too much doom and gloom in the goings on around the world. I also felt I needed a bit of a break from art. I wasn’t happy with whatever it was I was doing (colouring the design for the cover of a colouring book I’m working on). So, I spent much of the weekend crocheting the big scrapbusting blanket I’ve been working on.

Well done me for recognising I needed to do some self-care!

The blanket is nearly finished, and my wrists and fingers are aching from the weight of the blanket as I join pieces in. However, I do think it’s working out just fine.

Crocheting is soothing for me – its repetitive nature is calming. Mind you, I also watched a few films while doing it. That was soothing too.

Today is EMDR day and I’ll soon have to sort myself out to head out for my weekly session. I know we need to finish off what was being worked on in the last two sessions. I then think I know what needs to be worked on next.

I do have to say that despite my tiredness, I think I’ve had a week of contentment and positivity and few moments of upset in one way or another. I can’t remember a whole week like this, with the level of contentment that I’m aware of and what I think is a reduction in the background level of anxiety.

Progress is progress. Sometimes it comes in tiny amounts. Occasionally, progress comes in larger, more noticeable amounts. At other times it’s noticed only when enough tiny amounts have accumulated for me to see progress has been made.

I’m not sure which of those applies at the moment, maybe all of them. But it’s still most welcome, and also a sign that I’m increasingly self-aware compared to the person who would ignore emotions, distress, dangerous situations all to keep other people happy to my own detriment, even though I wasn’t aware of that at the time.

I am now aware of it and I feel embarrassment and shame. I feel stupid for allowing myself to do such things.

I am, however, determined to heal and move on to become a person who considers my own feelings, emotions and safety is as important and to learn to feel safe in this world, in my body.

Sending Love – A Dangle Design

Sending Love - A Dangle Design ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Sending Love – A Dangle Design ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

For today’s whimsical and cute dangle design, I used one of the designs from my tutorial book “A Dangle A Day”, altered the hand lettered sentiment and changed the colour scheme.

I used just five colour schemes in the design itself – blues, yellow-orange, pinks, peachy-orange and yellow-greens. I used a blue and green from the design to create the background colour gradient.

By using the same colour gradients throughout the design it brings the design together.

I added a simple drop shadow to the whole design to give it a little dimension. I could have added drop shadows to the lettering and the flowers in the rectangular charm, but I chose to keep it quite simple today.

I think this would make a lovely note card or greetings card. I also think, perhaps with a different sentiment, make a lovely page for a BuJo, journal, diary, planner, and it would be lovely as part of the design of a scrapbook page.

How would you use a design like this?

I drew, handlettered and coloured the design digitally using my Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of my Microsoft Surface Studio as if I was working with pens on paper. My preferred art software is Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

So Angela, how are you today?

I’m content with that background level of anxiety. I feel motivated to work even though I’m really tired again. This time it was from a late night conversation with a friend in need. I can nap later if I need to. The tiredness is actually giving me a headache.

My Nikita Gill books of poetry arrived yesterday and I spent some time reading one, “Wild Embers” from cover to cover.

I cried at some poems as they really touched something inside me, when she describes in words things I’m only beginning to recognise within me.

With other poems it was like a light bulb came on as understanding was ignited within me.

Yet others highlighted the difference between how girls and women are viewed to boys and men, and treated differently, and brought up to believe different things about themselves.

You can tell in her writing she has survived some serious trauma; she writes not just from her heart and soul, but from experience.

I can recommend her work to anyone who has experienced abuse, trauma and who, like me, struggles to describe what is emerging from the Pandora’s box of the past as the healing progresses.

It helps to show I am not alone. It helps to show other survivors of abuse that they are not alone.

I felt alone as I had no one to turn to when I needed someone most. I withdrew within myself, isolating myself, being lonely even when surrounded by a loud, extrovert-filled family. Desperate to join in, to be part of it, but scared to be noticed as that left me open to being the one who was made fun of, blamed for anything and everything. It was horrible to be ignored too when I’d spoken; that happened often. I never learned to speak up for myself, to ask for help, to say what I needed. I suffered long in silence.

I make no apologies for speaking up now. For talking about what happened to me, not in any great detail as I don’t have that myself.

I make no apologies for trying to raise awareness about the damage that emotional neglect does, how worthless being ignored and uncared for made me feel, and has made and does make others feel. How it grinds a person down day after day after day…

I make no apologies for doing what I can to help others to not minimise the effect these things have had on them. To stop telling themselves, like I did, that I was weak, an attention seeker, a whiner, a whinger, a liar when I was in need of help or support.

Someone made me believe that was what I was as children are not born believing that of themselves.

I make no apologies for writing about these things if it helps people understand that someone made them believe these things about themselves and they can unlearn them and replace them with more positive beliefs.

A thought just came to me then. As I teacher I focused on teaching students with additional learning needs. My first focus was to build their self-esteem and self-belief, always. I was shocked at how little so many of them thought of themselves and I found that incredibly sad.

I could see that in them and I could see how I helped them believe in themselves more, one tiny step at a time.

I can see now how I knew I too felt the same way about myself but believed myself too damaged to be healed or not worth thinking better of myself.

Now, with the help of EMDR, I am changing those beliefs about myself little by little.

That inner critic is mostly silent these days, I think. I still suspect it is still creating a very quiet susurrus deep in the depths of my conscious mind. However, it’s malignant murmuration becomes louder when I’m overly tired, emotionally drained, or my anxiety is increased by some trigger.

However, I have to say it’s power over me seems to have diminished.

That’s not to say I’m healed enough yet. I still have those negative beliefs about myself – ugly, unloveable, self-loathing of myself and my body – and of course there’s the inability to feel safe a lot of the time, sometimes even in my own home.

Of course there may be other things that arise during EMDR.

However I do think I have made a lot of progress over the years. Slow and steady for sure, but progress all the same.

Anyway, back to Nikita Gill.

I can recommend her work to those who are friends, partners, family members of those who have been abused to help to understand what someone is going through.

I can recommend her work to all, for her words are thought provoking in a gentle but descriptive manner.

I think I may be lending this book to my therapist…that’s how valuable I think it is.